Stray dog task force reestablished
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has re-established the stray dog task force, similar to the one set up more than five years ago by the Togiola Administration to address the island wide problem.
The reestablished task force will also follow goals and mission cited in the executive order issued by Togiola so that this new task force can move forward right away, and additional goals and focuses can be added later via another memo or executive order, if necessary.
“Governor Lolo wanted to move on this project as soon as possible. He wants to reduce the population of stray dogs in the territory, especially those stray dogs that appear to have some disease and the ones that are not licensed, roaming the streets attacking residents on the road,” said Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, the governor’s executive assistant.
He also said the governor is concerned with the increasing number of stray dogs, which is getting out of hand.
Iulogologo pointed out that this was one of the issues raised by the Chamber of Commerce during last year’s gubernatorial campaign, where the Chamber asked the candidates to please look at the stray dog population, not only for health reasons but to further tourism development in the territory.
Samoa News should point out that this issue was raised several times with candidates in the gubernatorial race as well as with candidates in the local House race.
The re-established task force held their first meeting last week and a second one is set for today where all directors of ASG entities, which play a role in this issue, are expected to attend.
At this point, the Agriculture Department is organizing the meetings; however, Agriculture’s deputy director Peter Gurr says they would prefer that Health Department not only chair the task force, but also take the lead role, adding that he hopes that ASG directors — the decision makers — will attend today’s meeting.
“We at Agriculture along with ASPA and Parks & Recreations will work along side Health as well as other ASG entities,” Gurr said yesterday. “This is a team effort and we’ve invited the Office of Samoan Affairs to attend, since village mayors come under their jurisdiction. Our task force wants to work with village mayors on this important issue.”
“Agriculture has also been working with a non-profit local group, Alofa Mo Meaola, or 'Love for Animals', and it's been a great partnership,” he said. “The group has medicine that has assisted us, but not enough for the task we have dealing with the increasing stray dog population.”
The group was able to bring from off-island more than two weeks ago, a vet who helped to spay, neuter and check animals at the Agriculture compound in Tafuna.
“...the most important task we have at this time is securing a vet, because without one, we cannot purchase medicine to euthanize animals when needed or perform major operations on animals, etc.,” Gurr said, adding that he hopes a vet is secured soon and onboard with Agriculture Department. The vet will be working with the task force as well.
Gurr says all the plans and goals for the task force will be put together and reported back to the governor, who was informed about the importance of securing a vet for the American Samoa Government.
Last month, Rep. Larry Sanitoa wrote to the governor asking for the re establishment of the stray dog task force. This followed numerous reports filed with the lawmaker’s office on packs of stray dogs around facilities and areas frequented by the general public— especially around the Tafuna residential and business areas.
Sanitoa says he has not received an official response from the governor’s office regarding his letter, but he is pleased that the governor has reestablished the task force with the hope that something will be done with the stray dog issue and its effect on the community.
“There are still a lot of complaints from private residents and business owners regarding stray dogs in the Tafuna area as well as in the town area,” he said. “I hope the new task force comes up with some quick solutions and shares them with the public.”
“Bottom line, we all like dogs but we can't ignore the fact that there's a serious stray dog problem out there,” said the Tualauta faipule.
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